Mary Berry’s Sachertorte (sort of)


Great British Bake Off has returned for viewers in the UK, so I figure it is fitting to roll out another Mary Berry recipe. My write up of Mary Berry’s chocolate brownies remains, month after month, one of the most viewed pages on this blog.

So when I spotted Mary Berry’s Simple Cakes from the library I figured it was time to test out another one of her usually fool-proof recipes.

The very first recipe in the book is Sachertorte. Not a cake I’ve ever made before but one I’ve been privileged enough to eat in its birthplace, the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Created in 1832 for Austrian royalty (let’s observe modern country borders for now), it is a cake which now boasts its own national day (5 December, for anyone who needs an excuse to eat cake).

This version of Sachertorte doesn’t quite match up with various ‘original’ Sachertorte recipes that you can find on the internet, as it contains no flour. But I like this, as it means that this cake is suitable for coeliacs! The cake itself is actually also dairy free (the ganache is not) so for anyone dealing with dietary requirements, it might suit.

Somehow, when making this cake I managed to not follow the recipe – not on purpose. I ignore recipes all the time on purpose. But baking, cakes – generally I’m an obedient cook. I read the recipe multiple times before commencing and I don’t stuff up.

Only when making this, I did stuff up. I managed to reduce the chocolate but a full 100g. And guess what? It was absolutely fine.

So the recipe that follows is not Mary Berry’s, though it owes a great debt to her. And, due to the reduced quantity of chocolate, I declare it a health cake (or something).

Purists will also note that I used blackberry jam and you are supposed to use apricot. My choice, like that of any good cook, was driven by what was open and immediately to hand.

Also – because the cake is almond based it is reasonably dense but also retains its moisture well. So it will keep well for a few days, providing you don’t eat it.

Mary Berry’s Sachertorte (sort of)


  • 165g dark chocolate (or 265 if you are actually following the recipe)
  • 6 eggs, 5 separated
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • about 4 tbsp jam of your choice (you can get away with less)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150mL cream


  1. Grease a 23cm springform tin and base line with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 160°C fan (180 conv).
  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the 5 egg whites to soft peaks (Berry describes this as 'stiff but not dry'). As I have just one bowl for my stand mixer, I then (gently!) tipped the whisked whites into a separate bowl so I could keep on using the stand mixer bowl. No need to clean if you do the egg whites first.
  4. Next, whisk the 5 egg yolks, the extra egg and the sugar until thick and pale. It should be thick enough that it leaves a trail when you lift the whisk from the bowl.
  5. Whisk in the almonds, chocolate and 1 tbsp of the whisked egg whites. The mixture will be quite stiff but make sure it's well combined before moving on.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the mix. Ensure it is well combined but don't beat - you don't want to knock out air.
  7. Turn into your cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until the a crust forms on the top and the cake starts to shrink away from the edges of the pan. For my cake in my oven, this took the 45 minutes. As I used the 'wrong' amount of chocolate, you will have to use your own judgement here!
  8. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 minutes or so then tip out onto a rack covered with a clean tea towel. I liked this trick - especially good for more fragile cakes.
  9. Leave it to cool completely. I did this much late Saturday afternoon and proceeded the following day.
  10. When ready to finish, heat your jam (gently - it's high in sugar content and this can go wrong easily!) and then brush over the top of the cake. As I only have a very coarse silicone brush, I actually just used a spoon to spread it around.
  11. For the ganache, melt the cream and chocolate in the microwave and allow to cool and thicken. Spread on the cake - you can see from the picture that it's a nice thick covering, but make sure you include the sides too.
  12. If you are keen, you can pipe the word 'Sacher' on the cake. I am not that keen.
  13. Serve with cream. And because the cake is almond based, it is lovely and moist - so if you are especially health-conscious, you can skip the cream.

The Stag

date of visit: Thursday 21 July 2016

disclaimer: I was a guest at the ‘eat and tweet’ to celebrate the menu launch

So – apologies to both venue and reader for just two photos from this event. I’d spent the day at a wine tasting and exhausted my phone’s battery’s capabilities snapping away at wine bottles.

You may remember that The Stag has had a time of it of late. A few years ago it touted itself as “the worst vegetarian restaurant” (yep – it was a steak house). After a bit of financial excitement, new owners came in, and operating from a clean slate rejigged its dining offering as a fine dining restaurant.

A bit of tweaking and we see that The Stag has shifted to a more moderate position when it comes to dining. Venue Manager Robby Lippett describes the new menu as ‘gastropub’.

This means that the pub classics (yes, you can still have a schnitzel, burger or S&P squid) sit alongside a ‘tapas plates’ menu and a list of ‘big dishes’. Our tasting menu took in some of both (I think they figured we’d know what a schnitzel was like!). We were served tasting portions and the full size dishes were available to photograph but sadly technology failed me – just trust me, these two images aren’t representative of portion size!

chargrilled octopus
Chargrilled Octopus

We started with the chargrilled octopus – a $15 tapas plate. It’s served with black bean, cucumber and chilli jam. As we were having five courses, you can see that this was just a taster – or just a teaser because those two mouthfuls of octopus were really good. Definitely a dish I’d order again.

soft shell crab slider
Soft shell crab slider

Next, the softshell crab slider. For $14 you get two of these and yet another dish I’d order. It was delicious – the crab was crispy and both that and the crunch of the pickled carrot worked well with the bun and mayo. It was lovely to taste a slider that was something a bit different too.

The duck pie floater ($26) was a dish that sounded really interesting but I’m not sure how well it worked in its scaled down form. I think it’s really hard to miniaturise anything involving pastry – quite often, as here, you just can’t scale down the pastry enough and our tasting portion was dominated by it. I’m sure this isn’t a problem in a normal portion but unfortunately I’m not a big enough fan of pea and ham soup to ever revisit it!

The vegetarian option at this course sounded great – handmade gnocchi with cauliflower, blue cheese, porcini, kale and a parmesan crumb. Unfortunately I wasn’t sitting near to anyone eating vegetarian so I didn’t get a taste!

Our final savoury course was the scotch fillet mac & cheese. Now Andy loathes mac and cheese (seriously – what is wrong with him?!) so it’s not something I get to eat. In fact, it’s something you rarely see on restaurant menus – but here it is, with some beef, onion rings and truffle sauce. At $34 it is almost the most expensive dish on the menu (the porterhouse surf & turf at $38 takes honours) but from the taste I had it’s worth deviating from a schnitzel with gravy …

We wrapped up with the peanut butter parfait ($12). My love of legumes sadly does not extend to peanuts but this was a nicely put together dessert, complete with peanut brittle and salted caramel.

The dining room is set apart from the pub’s front bar and is actually quite a plush, relaxing space. Even though the Stag is returning to its pub roots, you do feel like you’re in a proper restaurant dining room and there are even soft furnishings. That’s right – you can have a conversation!

For those seeking pre or post dinner drinks, the Stag’s front bar is complemented by the upstairs Champagne Lounge.

From what I saw, the new menu hits its mark. By staying true to the pub staples, while allowing the kitchen a little foray into more interesting dishes, it should mean that the Stag has broad appeal.

The Stag Hotel
299 Rundle Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 8311 0392

The Stag Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joan’s Pantry, Hawthornedene


date of visit: Wednesday 20 July 2016

School holidays … a time to catch up with all those friends you don’t see during term time (er, and the ones you do see during term time too). Winter holidays are tricky – no one wants their house trashed by two five year olds who you can’t stick outside.

Our house was full of wine (long story), the friend’s house is having a ceiling repaired … so there was nothing for it but to choose a park and hope it didn’t rain on us.

Somewhat miraculously, even though it rained on us on the WAY to Apex Park, Hawthornedene, it was actually pretty dry at the park itself. After an hour or so running around and squeezing in some geocaching (an excellent way to keep small children occupied) it was time for a sit down and something to quieten down the inevitable wails of ‘I’m hungry’.

Part of our choice of Apex Park had been driven by the fact that Joan’s Pantry is right there. I’ve driven past it for years and years and years (and I’ve subsequently found out that a friend’s parents used to own it – got to love Adelaide!) but never been in. It’s had a recent refurb so while the outside looks relatively small, there is quite a lot of space inside.

We got in (luckily) just before the lunch rush and set about choosing food and drinks. A tactical mistake saw Master 5 opt for chocolate milk while his friend ordered an orange and mango juice. Oh no!


After some agonising, I decided on the ‘Big Breakfast’. Even though it was lunch time and I didn’t really need a big meal, it worked out at about the same price as ordering eggs and a few other bits and pieces … PLUS it had HASH BROWNS! Master 5 chose the hot dog with onion from the child’s menu (he was originally tempted by the big breakfast too … but was swayed by his mate’s choice!).

As we sat waiting for our food and drinking our coffees, we realised that some of the tables around us were enjoying glasses of wine! Tactical beverage mistake number 2.

The food arrived swiftly and, overall, was very good. The boys’ hot dogs were ENORMOUS – for $7.50 two big ‘halves’ of a hot dog, complete with onion (if requested!) and sauce. It looked like good quality bread too. And guess what? Master 5 was unable to eat all of his. There’s a first time for everything!

The big breakfast was indeed big. Mine was with scrambled eggs which were delicious. I hoovered them up sharpish before starting on the remainder. The mushrooms were delicious (not those horrible insipid watery mushies you so often get) as was the grilled tomato. Naturally the hash browns went down a treat and the bacon and sausage were lovely too. After all of that I could hardly make a dent in the big slab of toast. And the bowl of chips we’d also ordered? Yeah … we didn’t need that at all!

The one downer was that my friend had ordered poached eggs with her big breakfast and they were both firm in the middle. Always disappointing – and perhaps I didn’t help by smugly remarking how good my scrambled eggs were!

Joan’s Pantry gets a big tick from me (hmmm, is it just the hash browns?) and, judging by how busy it got, it would appear that the locals and visitors feel the same. If you are planning a visit – particularly on a weekend or during school holidays – I recommend you give them a call.

And hopefully, my next visit will be sooner rather than later.

Joan’s Pantry
7 Watahuna Avenue
Hawthorndene 5051
phone: (08) 8278 2091

Joan's Pantry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato